The Seven Seas Waterpark and Resort in Barra, Opol, Misamis Oriental is slowly but surely carving a niche in the world tourism map for its nearby cities and Northern Mindanao, but there’s more to it than its famous slides and crystal blue water pools.
For one, history teachers and professors can bring their classes on field trips to view the replicas of the Dutch privateers which are the centerpieces of the pirate themed water park, as first-hand references of the Eighty Years War between Spain and the Netherlands in the 1600s. Local historians would be more than happy to conduct history buffs and students through the pages of the back story behind the park’s theme.
Or environmental planners, government executives and students have a first-hand look at just how sustainable tourism is actualized in the design, engineering and operation of the waterpark.
Sustainable tourism is defined as an industry committed to making a minimal impact on the environment and local culture, while helping to generate future employment for local people.
Sustainable tourism ensures that development is a positive experience for local people; tourism companies; and the tourists themselves.
The environment is obviously important to tourism – without it, tourism would not exist. Both the natural environment (such as beaches, forests, and waterways) and the built environment (such as historic buildings and ruins) must be managed conservatively for an area to be environmentally sustainable.
The 12 aims of sustainability in tourism have been defined by the UNWTO as: economic viability, local prosperity, employment quality, social equity, visitor fulfillment, local control, community well-being, cultural richness, physical integrity, biological diversity, resource efficiency, and environmental purity.
“The preservation and sustainability of the environment is a rising trend among theme parks abroad,” said Engr. Elpie M. Paras, president and CEO of UC-1 Corporation which owns and operates Seven Seas in an interview with the CDO Bloggers at the waterpark. “Seven Seas is one of the first theme parks in the Philippines to employ sustainable solutions.”
Paras cites Seven Seas’ initial deployment of solar panels producing at least 250 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity daily in four locations in the parking lot, function room and landing pool.
“These are just the start. We intend to cover the entire parking lot with solar panels to help us reduce our P1 million monthly electric bill. If we can save 30% a month that’s a lot of money we can use elsewhere.”
Closing the Loop
Another sustainability feature of the waterpark is its treatment of used water to make it safe for recycling.
“To be able to reuse water that comes from our toilets, washrooms and food establishments, it goes to a tank and is processed by our sewage treatment plant (STP). All of this is collected, processed and impounded. Nothing is thrown into the sea.”
“The processed water is not yet potable but it’s very good for our plants because it’s full of phosphates and nitrogen so you can see how our greenery is all blooming despite the dry spell.”
Besides treating its wastewater, Seven Seas also uses Bio engineered enzymes to break down fats and organic materials coming from the restaurant kitchen sinks, reducing the clogging of its sewage pipes and use of detergents which may contaminate the grey water.
Paras said the waterpark spends some P300, 000 a month just for chemicals to ensure the clarity of the pool water that guests will experience.
“You will notice our crystal clear blue water in our pools. We spent money to make our pool water not only safe, but its clarity is at par with what you see in water parks abroad, in fact we are the first resort in the country which uses industrial grade UV (Ultraviolet) technology to kill bacteria and pathogens in our pool water,” he noted.
“Five Million Liters Daily (MLD) of water is processed and recirculated by our filtration systems. For most of the day we use solar energy to reduce our cost of electricity and minimize our carbon footprint because it’s mostly electric pumps that do the work for us.”
Paras said the waterpark further reduces its carbon footprint by using a deep well to replenish the water lost due to evaporation in the pools. Well water is filtered and treated before it is distributed to the park’s water laden features.
In its effort to reduce its usage of electricity, Seven Seas invested heavily on energy efficient Inverter Drive Controls for its pump and process motors. Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) motor control systems convert the more common (Alternating Current) AC into DC (Direct Current) electricity enabling motors to soft start and adjust their RPM depending on their application.
“We have reduced our electrical consumption monthly by at least 30%,” Paras disclosed. Our bill for April 2018 was around P1.6M, but in 2019 our bill went down to below P1M,” says Paras.
Solid Waste Management
The six hectare waterpark generates almost one truckload of waste each weekend. Seven Seas used to bring the segregated solid waste to the Opol Municipal dumpsite every few days.
“We are soon bringing sustainability to the next level, by segregating the organic/food waste for composting and gathering the plastic cups, containers and water bottles for recycling.”
Biodegradable material like paper wrappers and food containers will be packed and bound for sale to local recycling outfits. Used cooking oil will be collected and sold to recyclers.
“We are now building an onsite garbage segregation facility which will also include a composting bin.”
Paras dreams that one day even the garbage can be repurposed to generate electrical energy within the park premises.
For field trips to Seven Seas Sustainability Programs please contact Ms. Eva Jamis at mobile # 0917-677-7678, 0917-777-6795 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.